Depending on your budget, you could seek a left-hand-drive W461 or W463 from overseas. (You might have to do this, because the G-Wagen was withdrawn from the UK in 1995 and wasn’t reintroduced until 2010.)
German, French and Dutch classified websites, for example, serve up much more comprehensive and varied offerings when it comes to the G-Wagen, including ex-military models, camper conversions and exclusive limited editions.
During its long life, the G-Wagen could be ordered with a plethora of petrol and diesel engines, ranging from the W460’s 2.0-litre four-pot petrol unit right up to the storming 6.3-litre V12 available in the W463.
Among the most coveted options are the 3.0-litre diesel straight six, which won’t blow your hair off but will live forever with the right maintenance, and the petrol V8 offered later, which turned the G-Wagen into one of the least likely performance cars around.
How to get one in your garage
An expert’s view
John Dring, G-Wagen Owners Association: “All things considered, old G-Wagens never die and are simply worth too much to be allowed to do so. They’re much rarer than a Ferrari and more practical (but with similar fuel economy). You might come across a barn find for a little under £10k, or opt for a nuts-and-bolts restoration, possibly with an OM606 diesel engine addition, costing you £30k-plus. No one ever said quality or style would come cheap. What would you rather have: a new Mini or a mint G-Wagen?”
■ Engine: Don’t think the G-Wagen is in any way fast or frugal. Instead, take pleasure in the reliability of its laid-back motors. That said, propshaft failure is a known fault, signalled by a pronounced shudder under load. Gasket, hose and, more seriously, turbo leaks are also risks but not fatal. Check service records and that the oil was changed every 6000 miles or so. It’s also worth flushing the fuel tank and fuel hoses, because rust can build up inside them.
■ Bodywork: W463s from the 1990s are particularly prone to rust, mainly around the rear lights, windows and bumpers. If all looks clean, dig deeper to make sure corrosion hasn’t just been filled and painted. Mechanical components and chassis elements may have sustained damage during off-road expeditions. Later cars can suffer from leaky and malfunctioning sunroofs as a result of blocked drain holes, and corrosion here can cost thousands to repair.